Sexual Harassment Claim Dismissed; “Quickly Rebuffed” “Suggestive Remarks” Insufficient

In Montanez v. McDean LLC, No. 16-cv-447, 2018 WL 1183688 (N.D.N.Y. March 6, 2018), the court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment as to plaintiff’s hostile work environment sexual harassment claim, asserted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

After explaining the legal standard for making out a hostile work environment claim, the court explained:

Upon review, Montanez cannot sustain this kind of Title VII claim. Plaintiff complains that on one occasion Schaub “asked him if he wanted to go out with her,” on another occasion told him “she liked Spanish guys,” and on a third occasion made a sexually suggestive comment about whether plaintiff could handle the fact there were several women in the workplace. Plaintiff further claims that Schaub and Collazo–Nieves called him a “fake Puerto Rican” and accused him of “want[ing] to be black.” Finally, plaintiff claims that Schaub and Collazo–Nieves frequently engaged in conversation of a sexual nature. Although Schaub exercised some supervisory responsibility at the Restaurant, Montanez has not described anything beyond some suggestive remarks that he quickly rebuffed.

The court also noted that when plaintiff communicated his complaints to a manager, who determined that both plaintiff and the alleged harasser had both “overreacted,” and attempted to take corrective action going forward.

It concluded that “no reasonable juror could conclude that a reasonable employee would have found the abuse so pervasive or severe as to alter [plaintiff’s] working conditions,” and dismissed plaintiff’s sexual harassment claim.

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